Coca-Cola's iconic Super Bowl commercial with "Mean" Joe Greene took days to film, and for this silly reason

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You try chugging an entire Coca-Cola without belching.

Coca-Cola’s iconic 1980 Super Bowl commercial starring “Mean” Joe Greene, the then-defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, might be one of the most memorable ads ever aired during the Big Game. But the commercial — officially titled “Hey Kid, Catch!” — wasn’t too much of a gas to film.

"Mean" Joe Greene, a longtime defensive tackle with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the star of Coca-Cola’s 1980 Super Bowl commercial, had once said that drinking all those bottles of Coke left him with a (predictable) problem.
(Ross Lewis/Getty Images)

Greene himself admitted as much in a 1992 interview, in which he claimed he drank 24 Cokes during one day of filming, finishing each bottle in just a few gulps.

“Between me belching and going to the men’s room, it took three days to film it,” Greene joked in a statement shared with the Baltimore Sun. (Coca-Cola says bad weather also played a role in extending the shoot, though the company admitted Greene “struggled” to get his lines out after chugging down the 16-ounce Cokes.)


The Clio Award-winning commercial was also responsible reshaping Greene’s previously intimidating “public persona,” according Coca-Cola. In it, Greene at first rebuffs a child (Tommy Okon) who offers him a Coke after a game, only to reconsider, chug the Coke, and offer the boy his jersey.

“Little kids were no longer afraid of me, and older people – both women and men – would come up and offer me a Coke,” Greene once remembered of the commercial’s impact at a Coca-Cola event.


As strange as it may seem, “Hey Kid, Catch!” didn’t even debut during the Super Bowl, but during the 1979 MLB playoffs before airing again months later during Super Bowl XIV. Even stranger, it almost starred an entirely different NFL pro, according to Coca-Cola.

McCann Erickson, the advertising agency who came up with the idea for the commercial, had also considered Tony Dorsett, Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach. Greene, however, is thrilled he was ultimately chosen for the part.

“Aside from football, it’s been my whole life,” he said.

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